Von Pessumal and Chris Newsome
Around 2 weeks ago, we, together with some of the members of the Ateneo Mens Basketball Team, had been asked by one of our teammates’ former Tulong Dulong (Ateneo High School Outreach Program) teacher to participate in this near-by Charity called CRIBS.
CRIBS or Create Responsive Infants By Sharing is a Foster Care Program is a charity that serves home to infants who were unfortunate enough to be mistreated, rejected, neglected and even abandoned.
Mr. Nacionales, the TD teacher for the High School, was our key informant. He picked us up from the Campus and brought us to the place.When we got there, we were actually a bit surprised to see that the place was very cozy and comfortable. Usually, charity homes/foundations aren’t exactly the cleanest and tidiest places, but it was nice to know that this place was well-taken care of. Before we could actually participate, we were briefed by Mr. Nacionales about what exactly were we going to do. To be quite honest, we expected to take over the roles of the nurses or the caretakers, because that’s what usually happens when participating in charity events. But to our surprise, Mr. Nacionales mentioned that all we were requested to do was simple: have fun with the kids. That really made us feel comfortable to say the least.
When we entered the play area, we saw more than a handful of kids (mostly toddlers) that were just causing havoc everywhere. There were toys all over on the floor, bottles were toppled and the like. But obviously, being really tall and big people, when the kids saw us enter the room, their reactions were mixed. Some kids immediately ran to one corner out of fear. Some of the braver kids went straight to us and started investigating on what was happening. Some kids didn’t even mind us and continued on playing. At that time, we all felt a little awkward because we didn’t really know how to go about our interaction. We were reluctant to initiate anything at first because we were afraid of being too aggressive and it might scare the kids away. But, when our key informant Mr. Nacionales reminded us that there was nothing to be scared of simply because they were just kids, that’s when we started actually going around.
Some kids still didn’t want to go near us even if we were already on the floor playing with the other kids. During the early parts, we were still all in one group so it still felt like we were still a bit shy to scatter around. By this time, a lot of the kids were already going near us and started asking us to carry them and spin them around and such. It was actually quite funny because we had one of our biggest teammates with us, and the defining moment of the whole experience was when 10+ toddlers were trying to take him down! He was trying to be strong and resist but the kids were so persistent that he eventually gave in to them. After this specific event, everything was so smooth already. We were all in different places, interacting with different kids, playing different games. We all were having fun too. There was even a part where all of the kids weren’t even paying attention to their nurses anymore cause they just too bust playing with us. We had to tell them to listen just so the nurses could do their job.
At one point, Mr. Nacionales told us that at this time, the kids are usually supposed to be sleeping. Being guilty of taking away their nap time, we decided to step away from the play area for a bit. But as we were going away, the kids did not want us to leave their sight. In fact, there was a distinct moment where one of the more energetic toddlers, who grew quite a fondness of us, did not let go one of our teammates leg. We all gave a collective “awwwwww” when we saw this. Physically, it was so easy to let go of the baby by carrying him off of his leg. But emotionally, well that was just a different story all together. We actually ended up staying a bit longer. We realized that we really weren’t going to do anything after this anyway, so we decided to stay for another half an hour. Mr. Nacionales told us that we were allowed to play with the kids despite their nap time because the kids really seemed to enjoy our company.
We played a bunch of games with them like hide and seek (even if we couldn’t even hide anywhere), tag, monkey in the middle and all sorts of other games. Aside from the kids, the nurses really loved us too. They mentioned that they see us on TV and everything but they did not know that we were still very kind people at heart.
When we were about to leave, the CRIBS manager asked us to sign some T-shirts and some other merchandise. He was very happy about us taking the time off to contribute in the charity. We also mentioned that we actually had fun doing this because the kids were so fun to be with. It was also very difficult to say goodbye to the kids simply because all of them seemed to love us. They were jumping up and down trying to catch our attention as we were about to leave. It took a while to finally leave the play area because it was so hard so leave the kids who really wanted us to stay. But of course, we really had to leave for good this time.
The nurses and the staff waved us goodbye and we go out of the charity home already. On the way back, Mr. Nacionales told us that he has never seen the kids so energetic before. He guessed that it might have been because the kids were so curious about how big we were and they really seemed to interested in us. We were also talking about how fun this experience was. Quite honestly, when we decided to help out Mr. Nacionales, we already expected to do something tedious or straining. But in actuality, all we really did was play with the kids! And that was what they asked from us from the very start; just have fun with the kids.
And that’s great. If “helping” out means just having fun, we would gladly do this again! The experience was really awesome to say the least. We were just so used to be being tough and serious because of our sport, but this experience really brought out a side that we really don’t show often. We felt like kids again. We didn’t really think about anything aside from this because we physically couldn’t (the kids were all over us) and because it was actually nice to take a break from stress and everything else. In the end, even if weren’t exactly familiar with how thing worked in this charity, the message our key informant gave us, and how the kids responded to us, really helped us become more comfortable with ourselves. It was an overwhelming experience that brought out the “kid” in us again.
1. Just observing the children from a distance, doesn’t have the same affect or mean the same as actually participating and interacting with them. We didn’t realize how silly and funny some of the kids personalities really are. Of course their personalities become more visible when you actually interact with them, either verbal or non-verbal. Sometimes it was hard to believe that these kids were in fact the age they were said to be. Simply because the way they talked was more so the way a kid 3 or 4 years older would talk.
2.) Mr. Nacionales played a big role in our volunteer trip to CRIBS. He broke down to us why some of the kids act or react the way they do. He also showed us the reality of these kids lives and why something so little to us meant so much more to the kids. It actually brought out the interest in us to deeper understand what these kids were going through. As we interacted more and more with the kids, we became more and more understanding which is what actually made it so hard for us to leave.
3.) As participants, we were able to actually see first hand how these kids felt about seeing us. We can feel the excitement and see it all over their faces. That expression that was on the kids faces is easily something that you can’t just describe in a questionnaire or interview. These are all priceless expressions that can only be fully felt and understood while in the present moment.
4.) Having a questionnaire or interview would be better only if somebody was trying to save time but still be informed about volunteer work. If somebody needs to know quick information what it is like to experience being a volunteer at CRIBS, then it would be easier to just read about it. Also could be a good way for encouraging others to participate in other volunteer work by looking at all the positive feedback.